You may have a wide range of options for housing. Renting and buying a home are the typical options that most people consider. However, there are creative ways to have housing at low or no cost. Let's first look at the costs of buying a home, then examine your options to rent, then look at how to find free or low-cost housing.
It is beyond the scope of this book to present even a simple guide to buying a home. If you seek to build wealth, you should seriously consider buying a home. If you seek to follow a dream, buying a home could be a major limitation.
One of the chief things you get when buying a home is a major commitment. In a good real-estate market, selling an attractive home should not be too difficult. In a real estate market with falling home sales, it will be difficult. In either case, you will need to be on constant guard concerning your property value--you will learn to be suspicious of neighbors and any change in nearby properties or activities. In any case, owning a home adds greatly to the complexity of your life.
TACTIC: If you want to simplify your life, consider not owning a home.
A home costs you not only the house payments, but also the opportunity cost of your money being tied up in the house and land. And the time, money, and energy for maintenance, property and other taxes, insurance, and upkeep. Ownership requires your time and energy in doing everything from mowing the lawn to cleaning out the rain gutters. Owning also reduces your flexibility to move when you want to without complication.
If you are considering buying a house, ask friends and colleagues who own a home how much time they spend on yard and home upkeep. Consider the environmental impact of all the chemicals on lawns and the massive amounts of yard waste dumped into landfills by homeowners.
If you want to own a home, you will need to be in contact with experienced real estate and tax professionals to find out all the costs of buying, paying for, and selling a home. Owning a home may be called "the American Dream," but you need to examine whose dream you are fulfilling when you buy. Realtors, lawyers, mortgage bankers, government tax agencies, lawn care services, home repair services and stores, and a wide range of other folks are very happy to get you into a home. If anyone in selling, marketing, or financing a house or condo tells you directly or implies that the value of a house cannot fall or that housing values have never fallen or that even it is rare that house values fall, they are lying to you--don't do business with them. House values can and do decrease--never buy or finance assuming the price will go up.
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